For the second time in as many weeks, JAY-Z has given a public statement in support of Meek Mill, who’s managed by the Brooklyn mogul’s Roc Nation firm. This time, it’s in the form of a New York Times op-ed entitled, “Meek Mill and the Absurdity of the Criminal Justice System,” published Friday morning.
In the relatively short piece, JAY provides a synopsis of how the court has “stalked” Meek for “basically his entire adult life,” and touches on the cyclical nature of the probationary trap.
Immediately after Meek’s sentence of two-to-four years for probation violation was announced, JAY hopped to Facebook to call Judge Genece Brinkley’s decision “unjust,” a sentiment he again alludes to in his NYT piece.
“I saw this up close when I was growing up in Brooklyn during the 1970s and 1980s,” JAY writes, referencing the hardship and instability that characterized his youth as portrayed on several of his acclaimed albums, namely, The Blueprint. “Instead of a second chance, probation ends up being a land mine, with a random misstep bringing consequences greater than the crime. A person on probation can end up in jail over a technical violation like missing a curfew.”
JAY also points out that Meek was sent back to prison against the recommendation of the prosecutor and that his incarceration will have a significant financial impact on the city of Philadelphia and its taxpayers. “Taxpayers in Philadelphia, Meek Mill’s hometown, will have to spend tens of thousands of dollars each year to keep him locked up, and I bet none of them would tell you his imprisonment is helping to keep them safer,” Jay writes, noting that these troubling facts prompted him to stop his 4:44 Tour show in Dallas last week to discuss the Philly MC’s case.
Later, Jay notes that roughly half of the people inhabiting Philadelphia’s jail cells are there because of probation or parole violations, which is a startling statistic on its face. “We could literally shut down jails if we treated people on parole or probation more fairly,” he writes.
This is the second time in two years that Hov has taken to the Gray Lady’s pages to advocate for criminal justice reform. In the summer of 2016, he collaborated with the Times and the artist Molly Crabapple for an animated short film about the so-called “war on drugs,” which the Roc Nation founder deemed an “epic fail.”
To close his most recent piece, JAY highlights the work of the Color of Change racial-justice organization in Philadelphia, which he says is helping to apply pressure to the courts in support of fairer probation periods, before calling probation a “trap.”
“We must fight for Meek and everyone else unjustly sent to prison,” he writes.
Read the full essay here.